Is consuming too much red meat a red flag?

Recent research has shown that consuming too much red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) may significantly increase the risk of early death, especially from heart disease and cancer.1 According to the results of the study, substituting one serving of red meat per day with other foods (including fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy, and whole grains) decreases the risk of early death from all causes by 7-19%. This decrease in risk may be even higher in men. Overall, the study suggests that individuals should try to limit red meat consumption to less than 4 servings per week. One serving of unprocessed red meat such as steak or pork chops is approximately equal in size to a deck of cards. For processed red meats the serving size is smaller (2 slices of bacon, 1 hotdog, 1 slice of salami/bologna).

Nate Kelly MPH, RD

1. Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM; et al. Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies [published online March 12, 2012]. Arch Intern Med. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2287.